Wife faces sentencing for Christmas dispute
A Hatfield couple won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts this year, the wife having been convicted of charges she menaced her husband with a butcher knife last year during a quarrel about his “poor gift choices.”
Karen Pilat, 51, formerly of the 2400 block of Merel Drive, was convicted in Montgomery County Court Wednesday of a misdemeanor charge of simple assault in connection with the Dec. 25, 2011, argument with her husband inside the Hatfield home they once shared.
“Poor gift choices in the Christmas season. I think she turned a little bit into the ‘drinch’ over Christmas. The argument started after Christmas dinner when she opened her gifts and she didn’t like them,” alleged Assistant District Attorney Cara McMenamin. “His procrastination and last-minute gift choices turned her into a raging ‘drinch.’”
By convicting Pilat of simple assault, Judge darrett D. Page, who presided over the non-jury trial, determined Pilat did attempt by physical menace to put her husband in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
With a split verdict, the judge acquitted Pilat of a charge of recklessly endangering another person, determining she didn’t place her husband in danger of death or serious bodily injury with her conduct.
Pilat, who was represented by defense lawyer Richard D. Winters, faces a potential sentence ranging from probation to one month in jail. The judge deferred sentencing so that Pilat can undergo a psychological and drug and alcohol evaluation.
Wearing a pink polka dot sweater over a white blouse, Pilat showed no emotion as the judge rendered the verdict. She remains free on bail but the judge ordered her to have no contact with her estranged husband. The couple reportedly no longer lives together.
During the trial, the victim testified Pilat expected jewelry and a card expressing his love for her last Christmas. Instead, the victim gave Pilat an artistic tile and a Bonsai or bamboo plant. An argument ensued about 11 p.m. Christmas night, according to the arrest affidavit filed by Hatfield Township police Officer Patrick M. Hanrahan.
“She berates him and it gets uglier and uglier,” McMenamin alleged.
The victim testified he picked up a cell phone to call police during the disturbance and that Pilat went to the kitchen and retrieved a butcher knife with which she threatened him before grabbing the cell phone from him.
Pilat didn’t deny being upset about her husband’s gift choices but denied threatening him with the knife.
“I got upset and was sad about the gifts he gave me,” Pilat candidly told the judge, adding the gifts she received were more appropriate for one of the couple’s children.
Pilat claimed she retrieved the knife, which she primarily used to cut vegetables, with the plan to flatten the tires of her husband’s car when he threatened to leave her.
“I was attempting to puncture his tires to prevent him from leaving. My mind was like, ‘I don’t want him to leave,’” Pilat testified under questioning by Winters. “All I wanted to do was talk to him.”
Pilat claimed she couldn’t puncture the tires so she went back inside the home and had the knife in her left hand behind her back. She claimed she saw her husband on the phone and grabbed the phone from him with her right hand.
“I did not threaten my husband with the knife. I didn’t cut him with the knife,” said Pilat, adding she never intended to harm her husband with the knife.
When police arrived at the home, after the victim called 911, they noticed the victim had a small cut near his ear, according to testimony.
Winters argued the victim’s testimony was inconsistent with statements he gave to police at the time of the incident.
The victim testified Wednesday that he believed the cut could have come from the knife, but the judge determined there was not sufficient evidence to prove the cut was from the knife. The victim apparently did not require any medical treatment.
But the judge also rejected Pilat’s testimony that she retrieved the knife with the intent to slash the victim’s tires and failed. Looking at a photo of the butcher knife, Page found it incredulous that Pilat couldn’t flatten tires with it.
“The purpose of the knife was to come at him in a menacing manner,” Page determined.
McMenamin argued Pilat’s “consciousness of guilt” was evident by the fact she hid the knife in a trunk in the bedroom and barricaded herself in the bedroom by pushing a dresser in front of the door when police asked her to exit the bedroom. The police had to force the door open to take Pilat into custody, according to testimony.